Welcome back to my Fall 2012 YA Debut Interview series! I’m excited to feature these ten debut novels from the fall season, and I hope you’re as intrigued to get your hands on them as I am. Today’s YA debut author is Meagan Spooner—her first novel, Skylark, is available now from Carolrhoda Lab / Lerner Books. Read on to see how Meagan answered my Q&A…
…And be sure to enter the GIVEAWAY for a chance to win a poster of the book’s cover!
Nova: I’ll start with the dreaded question you may be hearing already from strangers on elevators, long-lost family members, and your doctor while you’re sitting on the examination table in the paper gown during your next checkup: “So what’s your book about?” (Feel free to use the jacket copy, or describe in your own words. Up to you.)
Meagan: Vis in magia, in vita vi. In magic there is power, and in power, life.
For fifteen years, Lark Ainsley waited for the day when her Resource would be harvested and she would finally be an adult. After the harvest she expected a small role in the regular, orderly operation of the City within the Wall. She expected to do her part to maintain the refuge for the last survivors of the Wars. She expected to be a tiny cog in the larger clockwork of the city.
Lark did not expect to become the City’s power supply.
For fifteen years, Lark Ainsley believed in a lie. Now she must escape the only world she’s ever known…or face a fate more unimaginable than death.
In my experience, every book wants to be written differently—and each one behaves differently from the one before it. Some novels like it out of order, and some rigidly insist on being written from start to finish. Some novels come out fast; others are excruciatingly slow. Some novels torment you, and some sing you to sleep. What did your novel want? How did you appease it? Did it ever misbehave?
Before SKYLARK, I had actually never finished a novel-length story. I think it was a combination of many things: not being ready yet, not enough discipline/drive, and not enough interest in the story itself. But when I got the idea for SKYLARK, I knew that I wanted to see it through to the end. So I made a promise to myself that I would write at least 500 words a day, every day, until the book was done. Weekends, holidays, sick days, days I was on an airplane for 16 hours… didn’t matter, the writing still got done. This meant that the book was finished pretty quickly, because usually I’d end up writing closer to 2000 words every day!
Tell us about the place—as in the physical location: a messy office, a comfy couch, a certain corner table at the café—where you spent most of your time writing this book. Now imagine the writing spot of your fantasies where you wish you’d been able to write this book… tell us all about it.
I wrote almost all of this book while living with my amazing friends, Amie and Brendan, in Melbourne, Australia. They read the first few chapters when I was trying to figure out what my next move was—get a day job, etc.—and, being incredibly generous friends, they invited me to come live with them for a year and finish the book. So I spent most of my time in my bedroom at their house, at my computer.
As far as dream spots… I have to say, Australia comes pretty close! But I’d love to one day own a big house out in the country somewhere with an office in a turret, with windows all around and bookshelves lining every inch of wall space that’s not window. I’d love to be able to sit there and watch the weather roll in and out while I work.
Imagine you’re on the subway, or the bus, or sitting in a park somewhere minding your own business… and you look up and see the most perfect person you could imagine devouring your book. This is your ideal reader. Set the scene and describe him or her (or them?) for us.
My ideal reader would be a teenager, probably around 13–14. She’s probably quiet, and probably prefers reading to parties. She might even get teased by other kids for reading so much, but she doesn’t care—books are better friends anyway! She’s that kid who brings a book to a family dinner, and reads under the table. She reads on the bus, and misses her stop. She reads so intensely that she becomes oblivious to the world around her, because nothing else matters but turning that next page!
[OMG, that was me! I was your ideal reader, Meagan! —Nova]
What was the moment when the upcoming publication of your novel felt “real” for the first time—when you got your editorial letter, when you saw the cover, when you held the ARC in your hands… or something else? Or if it doesn’t feel “real” yet, when do you think it will?
I think for me it was holding my ARCs for the first time. I think that there’s a lot of little “omg, it’s really real!” moments along the way, and those all hit me pretty good. But I think seeing the ARCs for the first time was the biggest shock to my system. I kept flipping through the pages and going “Oh my god, those are my words! On actual PAGES! Like it’s a real book!” I’d carry them around and show people—it was, in hindsight, SO ridiculous. But pretty freaking awesome, too.
Dream question: If you could go on book tour anywhere in the world, with any two authors (living or dead), and serve any item of food at your book signing… where would you go, who with, and what delicious treat would you serve your fans?
I’d love to have tea at the Savoy with Diana Wynne Jones and Robin McKinley. These two women are incredible sources of inspirations for me, and have been since I was a wee little girl. After our private tea, we’d then step into our teleporters (because hey, this is a dream!) and head to New York City for a signing afterward. There’s nothing like NYC for writers… authors everywhere, as well as agents and editors! Every time I go there it’s like stepping into Book Central.
If you had to pick one sentence, and one sentence only, to entice someone to read your book, what would it be? (I almost hate myself for asking you this question and making you choose! Almost.)
“I don’t want to be kept safe! I don’t want to be kept, not by anyone.”
Okay, so I cheated a bit and it’s technically two sentences, but they’re both part of the same speech Lark gives, so I’m doing it anyway! For me this is one of the major turning points in the book. At the beginning all Lark really wants is to be safe, but she’s woefully underprepared for life beyond the Wall. She grows, however, over the course of the book—and this is the moment when she realizes that it’s not about being safe or relying on someone else, it’s about living her life on her own terms. It’s a pretty big moment for her.
Skylark is available now fromCarolrhoda Lab/Lerner Books. Read on for a chance to win a poster of the book’s cover!
Meagan Spooner grew up reading and writing every spare moment of the day, while dreaming about life as an archaeologist, a marine biologist, an astronaut. She graduated from Hamilton College in New York with a degree in playwriting, and has spent several years since then living in Australia. She’s traveled with her family all over the world to places like Egypt, South Africa, the Arctic, Greece, Antarctica, and the Galapagos, and there’s a bit of every trip in every story she writes.
She currently lives and writes in Northern Virginia, but the siren call of travel is hard to resist, and there’s no telling how long she’ll stay there.
In her spare time she plays guitar, plays video games, plays with her cat, and reads.
She is the author of SKYLARK, coming out August 1 from Carolrhoda Lab/Lerner Books. She is also the co-author of THESE BROKEN STARS, forthcoming from Disney-Hyperion in Fall 2013.
Follow @MeaganSpooner on Twitter.
And check out the Skylark book trailer:
NOW ENTER THE GIVEAWAY!
You could win: a 16×24″ poster of the Skylark cover!
How to enter:
1. Just leave a comment on this post, or
2. Fill out this entry form.
If you do both, you will be entered TWICE!
And to gain another entry, just tweet about this interview and giveaway—and let me know you did in your comment or on the form—and you’ll be entered THREE TIMES.
This giveaway is open in the US only. This giveaway closes on Tuesday, September 25 at 8pm EST. Good luck!